The European Central Bank has taken a big step towards ending its crisis-era economic stimulus measures, dropping an explicit commitment to expand its bond-buying programme if the eurozone expansion sputters.
As is often the case with the ECB, the important policy shift was couched in a minor change in wording in its postgoverning council meeting statement yesterday, where it took out a vow to intervene more aggressively in bond markets should growth disappoint.
But the change in its 「easing bias」 marked one of the final steps Mario Draghi, ECB president, must go through before winding up a programme launched three years ago as the eurozone struggled to recover from its catastrophic debt crisis. It also comes amid a global effort by central banks to return to pre-crisis policymaking, a shift that has unnerved financial markets accustomed to years of massive emergency stimulus from the ECB, US Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan.
但是，「寬鬆偏向」的變化只是歐洲央行行長馬里奧•德拉吉(Mario Draghi)在結束三年前啟動的債券購買計劃之前必須走完的最後幾步之一；當初歐元區正竭力從災難性的債務危機中恢復過來。同時，這一變化的背景是全球各大央行努力恢復危機前的政策制定，這種轉變使金融市場緊張，因為市場已經習慣於歐洲央行、美聯儲(Federal Reserve)和日本央行(Bank of Japan)多年的大規模緊急刺激措施。
The prospect of an end to easy money helped spark last month』s stock market sell-off and Mr Draghi insisted at a press conference that the ECB』s overall policy stance remained supportive; it left its ultra-low interest rates unchanged and is buying €30bn in bonds every month — though that is down from €60bn a month last year.
The strength of the recovery meant situations in which the ECB would need to buy more bonds were 「really unlikely contingencies now」, he said in explaining the change in language.
The bank』s move on easing bias indicates it is increasingly confident growth in the region can survive without its extraordinary support.
The confident tone initially sent the euro up 0.6 per cent against the dollar, hitting $1.2446, before it sold off later in the day, falling 0.8 per cent by the end of the European trading day to $1.231.
The ECB is expected to call time on buying new bonds under the €2.3tn programme this year, possibly in September though more likely in December. It is expected to maintain record-low interest rates until mid-2019.
In previous monetary policy statements, the ECB』s governing council had declared itself ready to increase the asset purchase programme 「in terms of size and/or duration」 in the event of an economic downturn or market turmoil. This language was omitted yesterday.